iPod: The Missing Manual by J.D. Biersdorfer
Finished on 1/31/07
Rating: 4.5/5 (Terrific!)
I had to buy a new cell phone this week. I don’t know how long I had my old phone (it was originally my husband’s; he passed it on to me when he got his fancy Treo), but I'm pretty sure we got our money’s worth out of it. It was so old, it didn’t even have a camera. Gasp! But it was time. The screen had died, obviously making it difficult to see my contact list, let alone see who was calling. Since we dropped our land-line a few years ago, my cell phone was no longer a luxury. I relied on it, in spite of the fact that I really don’t like to talk on the phone. Well, other than to my parents, husband, daughter, granddaughter (although it’s tough to get a 4-year-old to carry on much of a conversation), and a couple of close friends.
That said, I’d been putting off the new purchase for a few weeks, but finally got over to that big box store (you know, the one where the employees look like they could work at Blockbuster on their lunch hour?) and spent what seemed like hours trying to making sense of all the different phones and companies. I’ve been pretty happy with my current carrier, but considered making a switch if the cost and plan worked to my advantage. I was certain someone would be able to help me sort through all my options. Hello? Does anybody work here? I think I’ve entered the stage of life in which I’m now invisible. Had I walked in with my gorgeous, tall and lanky twenty-something-year-old daughter, swarms of (male) employees would have been jumping over each other, eager to help in any way they could. But no, I was alone. And apparently invisible. After spending over twenty minutes perusing the phones and literature, I finally looked at one of the four salesmen standing directly to my left and said, “Can you please help me?” From there, it was smooth sailing. Well, until I got home and discovered I really don’t know how to use my new phone!
I’ve always resisted new technologies. Back in the late 80’s I never really wanted a computer and told Rod that a word processor would be nice for typing up my chatty letters, but why in the world would I need to get online (remember Prodigy?), let alone use email? I preferred sending and receiving my mail the old-fashioned way, thank you very much. Of course that attitude quickly went by the wayside and I became a huge fan of the ease and speed of email, went on to join several internet-based book groups, started a blog (which quickly multiplied to four!), and upgraded my SLR Canon Rebel to a Fuji Finepix digital camera (my husband still teases me about this since I swore I’d never make the switch from film to pixels!). However, I still don’t have GPS in my car (I’m blessed with a good sense of direction), but have been known to depend on my husband’s (which we nicknamed “Amelia” since she has taken us on the occasional round-about route) when we travel away from home. (I think he relies on his to get him to and from work!) So it probably comes as no surprise that I never really even wanted an iPod. I was perfectly content to listen to the decade-old cassette tapes I made to keep me distracted on long runs. It never bothered me to pack a small duffle bag full of CDs to listen to on my Walkman when we flew across the country on a vacation. I loved my Bose stereo that filled the house with crystal-clear music, one disc at a time. Why would I possibly need an iPod? But, as these things happen, my husband let me borrow his (a first-generation unit with a monochrome screen) and next thing he knew I was hooked (it had me from the moment I discovered the shuffle feature). I learned how to download songs and rip our CDs to my iTunes library, which currently boasts a grand total of 3,560 songs. I’m all set should get stranded in an elevator for 9 ½ days. I may not have enough to eat, but I won’t run out of music!
Fortunately, my new phone comes with a hefty user’s manual, unlike the fancy new iPod I received for my birthday. But lucky me, I received a copy of iPod: The Missing Manual from my husband a few weeks later on Christmas morning. Imagine my enthusiasm as I unwrapped what obviously appeared to be a paperback book (Oh, goody, a book! I love getting books!! I wonder which one it is? Oh. A book about how to use my iPod. Oh. Gee. I’ve never even heard of this book. Hmm. What? Oh, yes! I love it. No, really! How did you know this was something I’d like to read? And I didn’t even have to put it on my Amazon Wish List. Wow. I’m so lucky to be married to such a
I also discovered that not only can I upload my favorite pictures to the iPod, but I can create a soundtrack, combine the two, hook the iPod up to my tv and, voilà, instant slide show! If I’m out and about and realize I’ve forgotten to bring along a book, I can whip out my iPod and amuse myself with one of the many included games. I especially like Music Quiz (remember Name That Tune?). Of course nobody else can hear the music, so shouting out a random song title is sure to draw attention.
In addition to music, videos, pictures and games, the iPod has a stopwatch, clock, alarm clock, contact list & calendar (in theory I can synch these with those on my computer – haven’t tried it yet, so we’ll see), and a notepad. Very similar to my Hewlett-Packard iPAQ. (Oh, ya. Another bit of technology I swore I’d never need.) It can also be used as a portable hard drive, as well as an audio recording device (this requires the use of a separate microphone). Amazing! How did I ever live without it?!
Like most things in life, there may come a time when my iPod simply refuses to work the way it should. This handy-dandy book explains clearly, step-by-step, exactly what to do. Nice to know I can figure it out on my own. I tend to depend on my husband far too much when it comes to computer-related problems. There’s also a section that describes the plethora of accessories available to run the iPod through your car stereo system or dock it in a fancy system in your home or office.
In addition to the features of the iPod, this book goes into great detail about iTunes, the surface of which I’d only just barely scratched. I learned I can browse my personal library in three different views, change a song’s start and stop time (this is nice if the recording is from a live concert and I want to skip all the chit-chat), edit the information of a particular album (wonderful to FINALLY know how skip all that Christmas music while in the shuffle mode in the middle of summer!), print playlists and create miniature collages of the album covers for custom-made jewel case liner notes, download and subscribe to Podcasts, create an iTunes wish list (that includes the 30-second song preview with the Buy Song button), and finally, for when I have to go out and buy a new computer, deauthorize my old computer since iTunes only allows you to play purchased music on a total of six computers (copy protection is copy protection).
Whether you’re a new iPod owner or simply want to learn more about the available goodies, I can’t recommend this book enough. The author has written an informative yet witty manual that is easy to understand with its large, sharp color screen shots and photographs, divided into useful chapters for quick reference. I can’t imagine ever wanting to create my own podcast, but I think I know better now than to say never. I do know that when I make that technological leap, iPod: The Missing Manual will be the perfect guide to help walk me through the process, step-by-step. Until then, I need to go figure out how to send a text message to my daughter in Italy. Hmmm, I wonder if there’s a Missing Manual for the MOTORAZR V3.